10 Video SEO Tips To Improve Rank and User Experience
Statistics show that 17% of people spend less than four seconds on a website, but they are willing to spend 2.7 minutes watching a video online. Knowing that the average television commercial is 15-30 seconds long, think of what you could do with the attention-span-eternity that is 2.7 minutes of video engagement gold.
Video is powerful.
But if a video plays and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?
This post covers in short-form (because I know I’ve only got your attention for four seconds) 10 video SEO tips to help you create content that gets views — from taking into consideration quality and substance, to making sure your videos are seen and indexed by search engines so that they can be seen and shared by humans.
Focus On Quality
1. Focus on people first:
Before we start listing off ways to drive people to your content, it’s important to reiterate that you need to be proud of the content you’re driving them to. If your video has poor sound quality, or a script that sounds like you just woke up with a hangover and recorded this video while you were drinking a Bloody Mary, you’re not going to keep them for 2.7 minutes. You don’t want them to stay because your video is a train wreck and they can’t look away. For better or worse, the video content you publish inevitably represents your brand, so make it better not worse.
2. Likes, Comments, and Shares matter: High-quality, benefit-driven, video content that keeps your viewer engaged means more Likes, Comments, and Shares. More engagement means more people are seeing your content, not only through direct viral sharing, but also in the SERPs as both YouTube and Google use engagement to help them identify and deliver quality content.
Use Your Words: How to Optimize the Language You Use
3. Perform keyword research: Google reads words to discern what content is about, so using exact search query phrases to describe your content will go a long way in helping to get your content ranked on page one. Learn how to research keywords, pick one keyword phrase to target per video, then put your keyword phrase in your video Title, Description, and file name (ie: keyword-rich-name.mov).
4. Write a script and upload a transcript: Google will read the transcript of your video so make sure to write a script for your movie and actually say your keyword phrase in the movie. While there’s no rule of thumb about when to mention your phrase, earlier is always better than later.
5. Use YouTube Captions as a transcript alternative: If you don’t have the resources to create a video transcript from scratch, YouTube can generate crawlable closed captioning for your videos. If you take advantage of this tool, make sure you review the captions YouTube generates and make edits as needed.
Use YouTube to Host and Embed Your Videos
6. Host your video on YouTube: YouTube is an easy to use free space to host videos, and it also happens to be the second largest search engine. If you want your video content to rank in Bing (269 million searchers per month), it makes sense you should also want to rank in YouTube, which now sees more than 1 billion unique users every month.
7. Embed YouTube videos on your website: If you want to rank well for a video in Google or YouTube it is worth your time to create a rich-media content page on your website to support the embedded video. The content landing page should include your embedded video, as well as text and still images that describe or supplement it.
Diverse, rich-media landing pages are engaging, offer a strong user experience, and give Google a lot of context that helps improve your SERP rank. Embedded YouTube videos can also help improve your YouTube SERP rank as number of views is a YouTube ranking factor and video views received on your landing page count toward your overall YouTube video view-count.
8. Use the “old” YouTube embed code option: When you select the Embed option in YouTube you will see the formulated code, a Video Size pull-down menu, and four preference options; the last of these four preference options says “Use old embed code.” If you embed a video on your website or blog, make sure this option is selected. The old embed code gives you an <object>-based embed code that can be crawled naturally by search engine spiders (as seen right), while the new embed code puts your movie into an iframe that renders your movie uncrawlable.
Get Technical: Sitemaps and Schema
9. Create video Sitemaps: If you include a video on your website, creating and submitting an XML Sitemap for that video will make it easier for search engines to find and index your videos; return SERP results that lead people to watch the video on your website, rather than YouTube; and improve the visual presence of your SERP listing with the addition of a video thumbnail.
Creating a video Sitemap is something that anyone can do using any number of video Sitemap generators and Google Webmaster Tools. If your video is self-hosted, check out how to create a video sitemap at Google Webmaster Tools, or learn how to create a sitemap for an embedded YouTube or Vimeo video at the Moz blog.
10. Use Schema.org markup: Schema is a form of microdata HTML markup that provides additional information and context to search spiders. Google has called Schema “the recommended way to describe videos on the web,” and as such, is a recommended addition to help make your video content fully optimized and accessible to search spiders. Learn how to use Schema.org for video.
The Tip of the Iceberg …
Video marketing is a vast industry that could easily merit a few thousand words. I’ve tried to keep it brief in this article, but I would love to know what questions you have. Leave your video SEO questions in the comments section below and you may get one of my world-famous 600-word comment responses, or even a blog post dedicated to answering your question in depth.